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Virgin Atlantic launches Bengaluru route and goes double daily on Mumbai – Business Traveller

Virgin Atlantic is increasing its services to India, launching a new route to Bengaluru and confirming a second daily service to Mumbai from October 2024.

While Virgin celebrates its 40th anniversary in June, next year will mark another milestone – 25 years of operations to India. The airline added that it will offer over one million seats to the country from 2025, representing a 350 per cent capacity growth since 2019.

The Bengaluru route was first announced in June 2023, with the carrier aiming to meet burgeoning business travel demand from India’s Silicon Valley as well as connecting families, friends and students. Virgin competes with British Airways’ existing daily service, while Air India is also set to launch a route from Gatwick in May.

Business Traveller flew with Virgin Atlantic on 2 April from London Heathrow to Bengaluru, and spoke to Virgin’s CEO Shai Weiss during the flight. See our interview here:

Interview with Shai Weiss, CEO of Virgin Atlantic

Virgin’s Bengaluru service is operated by Boeing 787-9 aircraft and departs LHR at 1225, arriving into BLR at 0245 the following day. The return flight departs BLR at the early time of 0435 and lands in LHR at 1045.

The new flight complements Virgin’s existing daily service to Mumbai and double-daily service to Delhi – both operated with Boeing 787-9 aircraft.

To coincide with the Bengaluru launch, Virgin confirmed that it will increase its Mumbai service to double-daily from 27 October, 2024, subject to government approval. This new flight will mark the airline’s fifth daily service to India.

The airline added that it will quadruple the number of Indian-based cabin crew operating on its India routes this summer.

The second daily Mumbai flight will be operated by A350-1000 aircraft, with flights on sale from 10 April. The timings are as follows:

VS368 departs LHR 1115, arrives BOM 0155 the following day

VS359 departs BOM 0410, arrives LHR 0855

Virgin’s services to Mumbai, Delhi and Bengaluru also offer connectivity via London Heathrow for customers to and from destinations throughout North America including Seattle, San Francisco and New York JFK, with Virgin Atlantic and transatlantic joint venture partner, Delta Air Lines.

Additionally, Virgin has a codeshare agreement with Indian carrier IndiGo, allowing customers to book a ticket which allows them to connect from 36 destinations including Ahmedabad, Goa and Hyderabad onto London Heathrow. So far, the partnership has connected over 80,000 customers.

The airline also released its annual financial results for the year ending 31 December, 2023, with a record total revenue of £3.1 billion – an increase of £265 million compared to 2023.

Virgin said that the results reflect “continued cost discipline, combined with enhanced fleet utilisation” and added that “robust customer demand” for premium leisure air travel and holidays has led to this result. The carrier added, however, that corporate travel is still slower to return to pre-pandemic levels.

The airline carried 5.3 million passengers in 2023, with a load factor of 77 per cent. Passenger capacity was also 16 per cent higher than 2022, with 23, 720 sectors flown on 41 aircraft – up from 23,551 sectors in 2019 on 45 aircraft.

The earnings surpassed 2019 results by £80 million, with losses before tax and exceptional items narrowed to £139 million from £206 million in the previous year, and the airline on track to return to profitability in 2024.

Commenting on the results, Shai Weiss stated:

“In 2023, we capitalised on continued strong demand for leisure air travel and holidays, which shows that desire for experiences and travel remains, resulting in record revenues. A loss is never satisfactory; however, our performance and results illustrate that we have made really good progress in 2023, the plan is working, and Virgin Atlantic is on course to return to profitability in 2024.

“My gratitude goes to our teams, who go above and beyond to deliver an amazing experience, making our customers smile every day. At the midpoint of Velocityx, our four-year strategic plan, and as we gear up to mark 40 years of flying in June, our commitment and belief in our vision of becoming most loved travel company and sustainably profitable is stronger than ever. 2024 is the turning point for Virgin Atlantic, the culmination of our transformation and the year we make it count.”

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